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The Gambia elects parliamentarians in historic poll

Eddy Micah
April 6, 2017

After a shock vote to remove President Yahya Jammeh from power in December, Gambians are now selecting new deputies in parliamentary elections as they press ahead with democratic renewal.

Voting marbles displayed by election worker
An election worker showing voting marbles to political party representatives during December's presidential elections Image: AP

Gambians head to the polls on Thursday to vote in genuine multiparty parliamentary elections. They became possible after former leader Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled the country for 22 years, was ousted from power in presidential elections in December 2016 by an opposition coalition led by Adama Barrow.

Nine parties including former president Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) and the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) are competing for seats. The West African country has a population of almost 2 million and more than 880,000 are eligible to vote. The polls opened at 8:00 a.m and close at 5:00 p.m.   According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), 53 seats in The Gambia's National Assembly are being contested. Five further seats will be allocated by the president.

The African Union, the regional ECOWAS bloc and the European Union have all sent observers to monitor the elections. ECOWAS troops that were involved in pressuring former President Yahya Jammeh to concede defeat will remain in The Gambia until President Barrow is satisfied with the country's security.

Gambia Präsidentschaftswahl
Voters place their marble in the container allocated to the candidate of their choice Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/J. Delay

The Gambia has a unique system of voting in which marbles are dropped into colored metal barrels representing the different candidates. Observers will be watching closely as the election rolls out during the day. The first results are expected during the evening and a full set due by late morning on Friday.

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